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Smoking and the Second Generation

When you quit smoking now, you’re not just helping to insure the health of your unborn child, but possibly the very existence of your grandchildren. Researchers have found that a mother’s smoking before and after pregnancy can reduce her daughter’s fertility by as much as two-thirds. According to a team at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, the culprit might be a hydrocarbon chemical known as PAH, which is a pollutant found in cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and smoked food. When mice were exposed to this chemical before pregnancy or during breast-feeding, their female offspring were born with two-thirds fewer eggs than normal, limiting their future reproduction. Male fertility is affected by smoking, too, as previous studies have suggested that the male offspring of mothers who smoke have lower sperm counts.

Think you might be pregnant? Learn more about the early signs of pregnancy.